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Idaho community shows resilience in wake of murders

ABC News

(MOSCOW, Idaho) — It’s been one month since four University of Idaho students were stabbed to death in an off-campus home in the college town of Moscow, and the university community has come together to heal and support one another.

Authorities have not made any arrests in the slayings of Kaylee Goncalves, Maddie Mogen, Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle, leaving some residents and students on edge.

When police responded to the “somber” scene on Nov. 13, they were met with a lot of tears from friends and family as they figured out who was inside the house, Moscow Police Capt. Roger Lanier said in a video statement Tuesday. The gruesome murders also took a toll on the officers, some of whom were very young and facing their first major crime scene, Lanier said.

“This is such a safe community with such a safe history. We probably have taken that for granted,” university provost and executive vice president Torrey Lawrence told ABC News on Tuesday. “We probably need to realize that our community is not immune to acts of violence.”

Despite the tragedy, students took a moment to celebrate on Saturday at the university’s winter commencement.

Goncalves, who was 21 years old, was supposed to be one of those graduates.

“It’s been a tough few weeks for our community. And I want to acknowledge an enormous loss in our Vandal family,” University of Idaho President C. Scott Green said to the crowd of graduates and parents.

One University of Idaho alumna, Kerry Uhlorn, said she wanted to ensure students felt safe on campus. Uhlorn, a 2007 graduate and member of the Delta Gamma sorority, created a social media page called “DO GOOD – UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO,” a nod to her affiliation with Delta Gamma.

Together, Uhlorn and the group raised more than $20,000 and purchased 2,187 Birdies, a personal safety device, for the Vandal community, she told ABC News.

“I’ve had messages from people I’ve never met, people that […] weren’t even Vandals that just are so touched by this. It’s kind of like a bright light in this really dark situation,” Uhlorn said.

“This whole thing just reminded me how proud I am to be a Vandal,” Uhlorn added.

Physical reminders of the losses are visible on campus and in town.

Greek Row is honoring the four students with flags and banners on their houses.

Pi Beta Phi, the sorority Mogen and Kernodle belonged to, set up a memorial angel tree on their porch. The sorority sisters posted to their social media page inviting all members of the community to place an ornament to honor their slain members.

Sigma Chi, the fraternity Chapin belonged to, has its flag at half-staff.

Moscow businesses have adorned their windows with the victims’ names, and the tree at the center of town is decorated with roses and notes of remembrance.

As the investigation continues, Lanier said Tuesday that police are closely guarding “the information that we’ve discovered at the scene and our investigative information because we want to protect the integrity of this investigation.”

But, he promised, “This investigation is not cold. We get tips every day that are viable.”

“Those tips help us do everything from clear people … to further some of the theories that we’re working on,” he said. “Eventually we’re going to narrow in on exactly what happened and who did it.”

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